Personal Stories: Ms. Faten

My mother got an aortic dissection one week ago. The dissection occurred in the ascending and the arch of the aorta.

She got symptoms of a heart attack at Thursday 2 am. She could not move her left hand and left leg. We rushed her to the hospital. They admitted her and gave her medications through the IV. She woke up at 9 am and could move her hand, legs and even talk properly. She walked to the washroom and was able to eat and identify taste. She was still complaining that there was still pain in her chest although she was on pain killers. At around 2 pm, she had difficulty breathing. We called the nurse in charge. She saw her hardly breathing and only then she called for the ICU physicians.

The ICU doctor coded blue and then the whole hospital was rushing into her room. They asked us (her sons and daughters) to leave the room. We did not see her till 8 pm that night in the ICU ward. She had all kinds of tubes hanging off her body. Tubes for breathing, tubes for feeding, tubes for urinating, tubes for dialysis, all kinds. At 11 pm, the doctors called us for an urgent meeting. They suspected that it could be a problem with the aorta that caused all this but they had to verify it through one of three procedures.

At 11.30 they verified that a dissection has occurred in the aorta. They located the dissection at the ascending part. This is when we saw it on the faces of the cardiac doctors and the surgeons. They gave us one of two options. Either we go for surgery and the chances of survival are minimal or we wait and the chances of mortality are high. We agreed with the doctors for her to go for surgery. She was admitted to the surgery room at 1.30 am. Doctors have explained to us the procedure and gave us all statistics about the surgery. It was 70% failure and 30% success.

At 7.30 am, the surgeon left the surgery room. He said technically the surgery is a success but we have to wait for the patient to recover. She was admitted to the cardiac ICU. She is hemodynamically stable but has not woke up till today. Severe brain damage has occurred and was diagnosed by a CT scan. Very few signs of her waking up are shown. She opens her eyes but cannot identify where she is or what is she doing. She yawns like an infant. She shows signs of swallowing. She gets seizures at certain times when the sedation is low. Her heart and lungs are functioning alright but her transplanted kidney has failed.

We are waiting day after day for her to wake up and have very big hopes that she will. We know it will take time, probably months or years. She has supported us for years and now is the time we pay her back with all the care and support. It was a bit difficult on us and I bet it is difficult on any patients and their families who went through an aorta dissection.


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